In my many years of professional life in the US and Canada, I have worked with people from many nationalities but not encountered even one IndigenousIn my many years of professional life in the US and Canada, I have worked with people from many nationalities but not encountered even one Indigenous person.
As I read through Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, it became easier for me to understand why this is so.
Dunbar-Ortiz delves into the history that is missing from the mainstream US history’s obsession with biographies of great men. Dunbar-Ortiz contends that the depopulation of the Indigenous people from around 100 million when Columbus reached the place was not just the result of diseases that the Europeans brought to the Americas, as is commonly perceived.
The book is long and sometimes long winded, not unlike some other works written over a century ago. I was daunted by its sheer size and even though thThe book is long and sometimes long winded, not unlike some other works written over a century ago. I was daunted by its sheer size and even though the audio version is extremely long as well, the long journey is not without its rewards.
Freud makes the book very engrossing by including his own and some of his patients' dreams to illustrate his method of analysis. It is a fascinating subject and helped me immediately start interpreting my own dreams using some of the concepts explained in this work.
Having heard the audio version, I would go back to read some of the sections again in print.
(This review is based on an audio version of the book)....more
It is easy to understand why Boris Akunin is a best selling author in post- communist Russia. His key character, Erast Fandorin is young and unburdeneIt is easy to understand why Boris Akunin is a best selling author in post- communist Russia. His key character, Erast Fandorin is young and unburdened by the big questions of life. As a 20-year old sleuth with the Tsarist police, his escapades owe as much to his quick thinking and intelligence as to chance and practical choice. When in a situation from where there is no escape, he does not hesitate to strike a bargain with his captor, Lady Astair, promising not to persecute the remaining members of her cult, in lieu of sparing his life.
I found the book to be an easy and fun read, despite a macabre end....more
Solomon Northup was a free black man in New York till he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the southern state of Georgia. Thanks to a white carpeSolomon Northup was a free black man in New York till he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the southern state of Georgia. Thanks to a white carpenter who became his friend, Solomon returned to his family after 12 years.
The memoir describes in detail his own and the lives of the other slaves. The account is heart wrenching particularly where Solomon describes how he was beaten for even trivial matters, and even more when he was forced to beat other slaves. In one case he had to beat a slave girl named Patsey so hard that he declined to continue to beat her, following which his master Epps thrashed her so violently that she barely survived, and became a silent and sad person for the rest of her life.
The book is one of the few personal accounts of slavery in the United States whose Declaration of Independence in 1776 seems to mock the millions who continued to live as slaves till slavery was abolished in 1861.
PS: My comments are based on an audio version from the local library. I understand there is a free audio version on youtube as well....more
I read books on science to catch up with latest developments, remind myself of facts that I sometimes forget and to provide me with a perspective thanI read books on science to catch up with latest developments, remind myself of facts that I sometimes forget and to provide me with a perspective than I don't encounter in my normal course of living. This book delivers unevenly on these- perhaps fairly well on the last two and very little on the first one.
The book consists of four parts. The first consists of the preface and the title essay "The Accidental Universe". This is by far the most engrossing essay in the collection and I felt it addressed all the three motivations I had when I started reading it, extremely well. The rest were a bit of a let down.
Among the others, I found "The Gargantuan Universe" in Part 3 engrossing as it reminded me of many known, but often forgotten facts. The remaining essays are based less on facts and more, I felt, on the author's speculations on the meaning of existence, religion and spirituality. All of this is in good prose, and immensely easy to understand, but added very little to my knowledge. I might add that the writer teaches both physics and fiction writing at MIT and the writing is reflective of his dual interests. I just wish that it provided more depth on the topics that are discussed.
PS: The above review is based on the audio version of the book....more
Arthur Koestler's essays in this collection were published in 1945, most of them having been written during World War II. A quick glance reveals thatArthur Koestler's essays in this collection were published in 1945, most of them having been written during World War II. A quick glance reveals that though the context has drastically changed since then, the book still has a large number of insights to offer. As someone who has worn his heart on the left for most of his life, this turned out to be doubly rewarding.
Koestler believes that human history has produced two kinds of responses to its condition. The Yogi believes that change can be brought about only by changing man from within, the revolutionary (or the "Commissar") believes that it can only be brought about from without. The French Revolution established the Commissar Age which culminated in the Russian Revolution. It's failure in the rest of Europe leads Koestler to believe that the pendulum had begun to the swerve towards the Yogic end since the 1930s.
He co-relates the perceived change with the new developments in physics that is prescient of New Age writers like Frijtof Capra and who became popular during the 1990s, the decade when the original Commissar State- the Soviet Union fell under its own weight.
Some of the essays in the collection are clearly dated. The ones that I found most engaging were in the first section of the book called "Meanderings", particularly the title essay "Yogi and the Commissar", "The Reader's Dilemma" and "The Intelligentsia." The others are more contextual and I skipped that held no interest for me. I would suggest any potential reader to do so, as reading it end to end might not be always easy or fruitful reading....more
A disappointing work by an outsider trying to understand one of the major cities of the world through the eyes of its rich, if not its richest. The woA disappointing work by an outsider trying to understand one of the major cities of the world through the eyes of its rich, if not its richest. The work is long, verbose and offers little that is not already known to most.
This is not to say that there are no occasional flashes of insight and interest. For example, in the middle of the book where the author has a long conversation with a social worker and residents of a slum within the city and in the last chapter where he beautifully describes the river Yamuna which flows across the city.
To the non- Indian reader, the book provides a dystopian view of one of the emerging centres of world capitalism, almost as a reassurance of the West's continued dominance.
The most fundamental flaw of the book is that it seeks to understand how the city's rich imagine their city. The rich do not lack the means to convert their imaginations into reality, whether these be opulent malls or gated communities. It is the poor and the dispossessed whose imaginations need words to be described....more
The book is page turner. Consisting of two very different "movements" or novellas, it centers around a 100 year old Bulgarian man, whose life and imagThe book is page turner. Consisting of two very different "movements" or novellas, it centers around a 100 year old Bulgarian man, whose life and imaginations are also a peek into the former communist country's history.
The first "movement" is very much in the realist style which rich journey into the history of chemistry and music in Bulgaria in the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of its main protagonist Ulrich. The second "movement" is in a more contemporary, even post- modernist style and is based on the imaginary events in the mind of the now 100 year old man.
The book had me riveted throughout and one cannot complain about the quality of the writing. What I did find interesting is that the writer's skill is not only evident but also overpowers the story. The end result is that I could not feel anything for the characters while being in admiration of the Rana Dasgupta's command over the writing.
His effort in traversing a large chunk of history and a broad range of issues, comes at the expense of lack of insight into why things turned out the way they did. Ulrich, as well as his imaginary children are almost always at the mercy of forces that lie outside their control. Worse, none of them seem to be able to come out of it or make much of an attempt (and even when the attempt is made like in the case of Khatuna, it ends up going the wrong way).
Despite its post modernist ouvere, there is a sense of historical determinism in the novel.
Having said this, I look forward to reading the Rana Dasgupta's non- ficion work "Capital". ...more
Under a False Flag is an amazing first novel by Tom Gething, whose wonderful blog posts (at http://tomgething.wordpress.com) led me to this novel. ItUnder a False Flag is an amazing first novel by Tom Gething, whose wonderful blog posts (at http://tomgething.wordpress.com) led me to this novel. It brilliantly delves into the character of a young CIA operative who is posted in Chile and participates in his own small way to engineer the overthrow of the Allende regime. Tom Gething's writing is as easy to read as it is nuanced.
Highly recommended for for anyone seeking to read historical fiction, or understand the US foreign policy and the workings of the CIA. I just finished reading it, and easily rate it as one of the better novels I have come across recently....more
A quote from the book: "In 1962–63, when I (Kanshiram) got the opportunity to read Ambedkar’s book Annihilation of Caste I also felt that it was perhapA quote from the book: "In 1962–63, when I (Kanshiram) got the opportunity to read Ambedkar’s book Annihilation of Caste I also felt that it was perhaps possible to eradicate casteism from society. But later, when I studied the caste system and its behaviour in depth, there was a gradual modification in my thoughts. I have not only gained knowledge about caste from the books but from my personal life as well. Those people who migrate in large numbers from their villages to big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata take no possessions with them but their caste. They leave behind their small huts, land and cattle, etc. in the village and settle in slums, near sewers and railway tracks, with nothing else but their one and only possession—their caste. If people have so much affection for their caste then how can we think of annihilating it? That is why I have stopped thinking about the annihilation of caste."